About the Skipper - Mike Rossouw

In January 1964 Mike ran away to sea and joined the Royal New Zealand Navy, serving for two years as Ordinary Seaman.

Mike's big break in life came in 1965, when Mike travelled overseas. First stop was in South Africa, working on steam tugs out of Port Elizabeth for one year. From there, Mike secured a berth on the Southern Cross, travelling to England, as an Efficient Deck Hand. Mike spent the next five years shipping out of Southampton on many different ships, from coasters to ocean liners. Some of the ships that Mike sailed on were Pendennis Castle, Pretoria Castle, Good Hope Castle, Richmond Castle, SA Oranje, MV Chuscal, MV Dragon, SS Golfito and MV Ardglen.

Mike returned to New Zealand and worked out of New Plymouth on a vessel called “Ngamoto”for about three years. Once Mike moved to Christchurch in 1989 Mike became involved with the Spirit of Adventure trust and their sailing ships Spirit Of New Zealand (pictured bottom right) and Spirit Of Adventure – this association lasted till now. In 1970 Mike passed his Able Seaman’s Ticket and in 1991 gained his Coastal Skippers Ticket, which allowed him to sail as Second Mate on coastal trips.

Learn to sail program

As a level 3 seamanship instructor for yachting NZ. We can run programs that you can obtain unit standards, plus a certificates that allows you to have a yacht in most places in the world.

In 1996, Mike spent a brief time as Navigation Officer on the HM Bark Endeavour (top boat picture on right).

It was around that time Mike set up the Jack Tar Sailing Co in Lyttelton, taking chartered trips on a vessel called “Cherub”. Trips soon out grew this vessel so purchased the vessel Oyster, the vessel used for chartered trips today.

Mike also tutors for Coastguard Boating Education and run many of their courses in Day Skipper, Boatmaster, VHF Radio operation, GPS, and Sea Survival. Mike also teaches how to Splice Rope or Wire and tie Knots.

Why not book a tour with Mike and enjoy an adventure and a yarn?!

Mike Rossouw - Skipper of the Oyster - Jack Tar Sailing
Spirit of New Zealand (left) and HM Bark Endeavour (right)
Mike Rossouw sailing the Oyster sailboat in Lyttelton Harbour
About the Boat - The Oyster

Oyster is one of the oldest boats on the New Zealand Survey - You'll be sailing a piece of kiwi history when you sail on the Oyster.  

She was built in Auckland in 1902 by a young boat builder, Charles Bailey Jr. Commissioned by John Glasgow. Oyster is based on the design of a first-class winning boat of 1899, and won many round the bay races in the Nelson & Tasman Bay area. Oyster is 31.5ft long (9.9m) and is built partially out of Kauki and Pohutukawa, a New Zealand native tree which grows along the coast.

Oyster was launched complete in Nelson on New Year’s Day in 1903 after traveling from Auckland on board the coaster SS Rawara, a Northern Steam Ship Company vessel. The final cost of construction including the sails and delivery to Nelson was £275.

Originally, Oyster was wheel-steered and had neither navigation lights nor an engine. In 1906, Glasgow installed a small Seal inboard engine which, seven years later, he upgraded to a Scripps 4.5hp heavy duty, single-cylinder engine.

In 1924, Oyster was sold to Nigel Blair of Wellington and changed hands three more times and was renamed Ariki before she was finally bought in 1937 by Ralph Millman, also of Wellington. A few alterations were made according to plans drawn by a well known Wellington yacht designer.

Late in 1955, Ariki was brought back to Nelson in very poor condition. She was rebuilt in Nelson by Dennis Win who amongst other things, fitted her with a new 42ft (19m) mast. The 8hp Morris Vedette petrol engine was replaced by a 9hp Victor Club diesel and the name was reverted back to Oyster as it was still carved into the transom. Oyster became a very successful racing yacht and won many races including the New Year’s Day race at Kaiteriteri three years in a row. 

In 1977, she was bought by Dick Young who, after two years of work, finally restored her to her original rigging, undoing the alterations which had taken place in Oyster’s long history. The old engine was once again replaced by a Solé 10hp diesel and she was once again sold to Dick’s son, Rob who meticulously maintained her both for his own pleasure and for the use of the Nelson Sea Cadets.

In September 1998, she caught the eye of Mike Rossouw who the following year bought her and with the help of two friends, sailed her down the coast to Lyttelton. After receiving her Survey Certificate from the Maritime Safety Authority, Oyster was ready for her new role as a charter yacht in January 2000, certified to carry six passengers and a skipper.

Oyster sailboat sailing past Godley Head at the end of Lyttelton Harbour
Oyster's design specs
Oyster sailboat in early 1900s
About the name - Jack Tar Sailing

Jack Tar was a common term used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy during the period of the British Empire.

Both members of the public, and the seafarers themselves, used the word as a general term for those who went to sea.

So where did the name come from?

Jack was used as a general word for a man or boy, especially a working man or boy.

Tar was an often used waterproofing agent for both the ship's rigging & sea farer's clothing, before modern waterproof materials were available, so seafarer wore tar covered clothes. It was also common for sailors to use a high grade of tar to hold their hair in a tight plaited ponytail to reduce the chances of their hair getting caught while working on the boat.

Combine the two together, and you get the term for the profession as a whole: Sailor = Jack Tar.

Volunteer poster for Tars